Hawaiian Sunshine Nursery – FOR SALE!


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Turnkey Nursery Business!   Hawaiian Sunshine Nursery

Hawaiian Sunshine Nursery (HSN) is the largest bromeliad nursery in the state of Hawaii and it’s now for sale!

Based on the island of Oahu, the operation consists of sites in both Waimanalo, Oahu (the primary facility) and Hilo, Hawaii. This successful nursery propagates bromeliads, anthuriums, foliage, flowering plants and agricultural products for their customer base across the state of Hawaii, the US mainland and Guam. They grow and export a wide variety of potted plant material to local markets, mass market stores, supermarkets, florists, hotels, landscape contractors and interior-scapers.

The major product lines include:
* Bromeliads – common and exclusive varieties.
* Hawaiian Volcano Plants – This is a specialty line that is primarily sold in garden centers, airports, hotels etc.
* Anthuriums – HSN has exclusive production rights for varieties of anthuriums, and is projecting great market growth.
* Foliage and flowering plants – Potted plants including carnivorous plants, flowering plumeria trees, crotons, and numerous others.
* Green Roof and Green Wall products – Live plants assembled to cover wall and roof areas.

HSN has production facilities on the islands of Oahu and Hawaii. The primary facility is located on two 5-acre State of Hawaii lease-hold parcels in Waimanalo, Oahu. The facility consists of 6 Quonset type greenhouses, 2.5 acres of shade house, .5 acre of gutter connected greenhouse and .25 acre of warehouse and office space.

Both facilities have forklifts, tractors, trailers, sprayers and trucks.

There is an integrated computer system, which is networked between locations that tracks sales and availability.

This property also has a 3-bedroom house and a studio unit for worker housing.


The Hilo facility is located on a 10-acre property leased from the State of Hawaii. It consists of 2 Quonset greenhouses and 2 shade houses. One shade house was constructed in 2011 and has all new benches and irrigation. There are also 10 benches outside.

Seller training possible.

 

View the full virtual tour and current pricing here:

Click Here to see the Virtual Tour

“Lost” Dog

Here on the Big Island
By Kelly Moran

“Lost” Dog

One day last November, friends of mine were driving up the road to their house, when a brown dog with floppy ears approached their car. He wasn’t trying to chase it; he sniffed it, and stared in at them. When my friends slowed down and stopped, they saw him do the same to every car that passed, in either direction, as if he were asking: “Are you the people who left me here?”

For dogs on the Big Island, it’s a sad fact of life that not all of them are loved, and that not all of those who are unwanted get treated humanely, or brought to a shelter. Quite a few are simply taken somewhere, and left to fend for themselves.

This dog was on a paved County road, halfway between one cluster of houses and the next; if he had simply wandered away from either place, he’d have been able to follow his nose home. My friends waved down a few cars, but no one recognized the dog. So they drove him up to their house (which took some effort – he was reluctant to climb into their car) and proceeded to search for his owners.

Lost Dog
This is how the dog looked on the day he was found. The photo was posted on Craigslist . . . but no one claimed him.

A month earlier, they had come home to find a lost dog on their doorstep – a mature female with a pleasant disposition, but no collar. My friends alerted their neighbors, then took her to the Humane Society, where a microchip revealed her name and ownership. She turned out to belong to a friend of a neighbor who had taken her pig-hunting that day. She’d gotten lost in the woods, found her way out, and taken shelter at the first house she encountered.

The experience made my friends think seriously about adopting a dog. They’d always had cats (there are two in their house), but neither of them had ever had a dog for a pet. They didn’t act on the idea, and had almost forgotten the incident . . . until they saw this lonely dog on the road. So they took the dog to their cats’ veterinarian to see if he had a chip (he didn’t), and give him a medical checkup. The vet found that, except for being undernourished, he was quite healthy, about a year-and-a-half old, and probably a mix of Lab, pit bull, and heeler.

Again, they phoned and emailed neighbors, and posted his picture on Craigslist, even noting that he had a V-shaped bite-mark in his right ear. But after a full week, nobody claimed him. My friends took this as proof that he was not lost, but deliberately abandoned. They speculate that he’d been raised for pig-hunting, but had either failed to hold his own with the other dogs in his pack, or that he was too affectionate by nature to tackle a pig without getting hurt. Yet, instead of giving him away as a pet, or taking him to a shelter, whoever raised him had simply dumped him.

So he’s my friends’ dog now. “Romeo” is still a puppy at heart: he wants to play with the cats (the feeling is not mutual!); and he loves to run fast (my friends joke that they could paint him gray and enter him in a dog-track). But he’s loyal: he keeps to the trails when they hike through the woods; he always comes when called; and though he’s never chained up, and spends most days outdoors, he doesn’t go roaming. But he is still very, very reluctant to ride in a car.

Romeo
“Romeo” today, on the lanai.

For more information about lost, abandoned and neglected pets – and especially if you’re interested in adopting one – the Hawaii Island Humane Society has full-service facilities in Kailua-Kona, in Waimea, and in Kea’au, near Hilo.

Kohala For a Day

HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND

By Kelly Moran

Kohala For a Day
 

An old song says: “It’s the far northland that’s a-calling me away . . . .“  And you might hear the call too, if you visit Kohala, the northernmost part of the Big Island.  There’s a South Kohala disctrict, famous for beaches and resorts, but say simply “Kohala” to local folks, and you’ll be understood to mean North Kohala.

Getting there is twenty-mile drive from upscale Waimea, yet in some ways, Kohala is an island unto itself.  The Kohala “mountains” are green, verdant cinder cones – all that’s left of the geologically oldest of this island’s volcanoes.  At their feet, the landscape is reminiscent of Maui’s oldest (Hana) district, with deeper, more fertile soils and thicker vegetation than anywhere else on the Big Island.

Kohala is also a cape.  Small-craft warnings are regularly posted for the Alenuihaha Channel that separates Hawaii from Maui.  The seas are always rough, with only one place to safely swim: the lovely little Keokea Beach (County) Park, which has a man-made breakwater to create a sheltered swimmable  bay. 

Keokea Beach Park
Keokea Beach Park. Keokea is a lovely spot for a picnic, just outside the town of Kapa’au.

 

Keokea Beach Park - with Breakwater
Keokea Beach Park with Breakwater. You can swim in the ocean – with caution – inside the breakwater at Keaukea Beach Park.

 

And there’s always a breeze: our electric utility (HELCO) purchases extra power from a “farm” of turbines that whirl in the near-continuous winds.

Wind Turbine Farm
Wind Turbine Farm. Winds through the Alenuihaha Channel generate electricity in Kohala.
Turbine and Trees.
Turbine and Trees. It’s easy to see why Kohala is a logical place to mount a wind turbine!

People have lived in Kohala since the very first voyagers came here from Samoa in the 800’s and 900’s AD.  Their heiau still stands near Upolu Point, though it was later expanded by the people we think of today as “Hawaiians” – the descendents of those who emigrated from Tahiti.  It was at that heiau, too, that the birth of Kamehameha the Great was celebrated.  By the twentieth century, agricultural workers from Japan, the Philippines and the Azores (Portugal), came here to work in the sugar fields and mills.  At the foot of Old Coast Guard Road, there’s a monument to Puerto Rican immigrants from 1901.

Monument to Puerto Ricans
Monument to Puerto Ricans. A monument erected in memory of the early 20th Century immigrants from Puerto Rico.

Kohala’s towns, Hawi and Kapa’au, developed and grew in the sugar plantation era.  Today, Kapa’au remains the governmental center of the district, and retains most of its day-to-day businesses, like hardware and grocery stores, along with some innovative galleries and restaurants.  Kenji’s House, for example, is the former home of a local beachcomber/diver whose seashell-and-stone sculptures are “folk art” at its unpretentious best.  Just below it stands Pico’s Bistro, offering gourmet and vegetarian pizzas and salads.

Kenji's Artwork displayed
Kenji’s artwork displayed. The late Kenji Yokoyama (1931-2004) collected stones, shells and driftwood from the Kohala coast to fashion simple artistic creations.
Kenji's Artwork displayed
Kenji’s Stone and Shell Folk Art. Seahorses and other sea creatures were particular favorites of local folk artist Kenji Yokoyama.
Kenji's Artwork displayed
Kenji’s Stone and Shell Folk Art.

Hawi is more self-consciously a visitor destination, featuring a wider variety of artistic offerings and eateries.  Especially intriguing, on my latest visit, were the ukuleles and guitars, both old and new, at Hawi Gallery Art & Ukuleles; and the vintage and collectible clothes next door at Chi Chi La Fong.  There’s an amazing choice of sushi, both traditional and modern, across the street at Sushi Rock, where they give a Kama’aina discount at lunch and for the first hour at dinnertime.

Even if living full time in the “far northland” isn’t on your bucket-list, spend a day or two in Kohala, and enjoy both the natural and artistic offerings, and the echoes of a quiet and rural lifestyle that once characterized the entire island.

The Palace Gets a New Crown

HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND
By Kelly Moran

The Palace Gets a New Crown

A new roof is going on the Palace Theater, but most folks won’t notice because the shape will stay the same. Hilo’s last surviving “picture palace” retains much of its original 1925 appearance, from the neon sign over Haili St. to the Art Deco tiles and paint jobs in the lobby and the auditorium.

The Palace is one of three movie theaters in Hilo. There’s an eight-screen multiplex in the mall at Prince Kuhio Plaza, for 3D and mega-hits, though also for live HD broadcasts of Broadway shows and opera from the Met in New York. And there’s the Kress multiplex, downtown on Kalakaua St. where half a dozen films go after they’ve run at the mall, for only $1.50! (The next-closest theater showing movies on a regular basis is the People’s Theater, a 40-mile drive up the Hamakua Coast, in Honokaa.)

The Palace is something of an “art house” most of what’s screened are independent productions and foreign-language films, and prices fall between the mall’s and Kress’s. Surfing movies draw big crowds to The Palace, and so do outdoor and conservation pics. A special treat at The Palace, once or twice a year, is the opportunity to see a silent movie from the ‘20s, accompanied – as it was then – by an enormous pipe organ, for The Palace is home to the only surviving theater organ in Hawaii.

Palace Theater

But films aren’t all you can see at The Palace. A 45-minute stage show called “Hawaiiana Live” is performed every Wednesday at 11 a.m., free of charge; it’s popular with visitors, and many local folks take visiting family, to get a taste of Hawaiian mele (song) and hula (dance).

Annual festivals and unique performances are also in The Palace’s calendar. In any given month there might be a classical music series showcasing young performers, a celebration of Taiko drums, a recital by the Puna Men’s Chorus . . . even an organ concert.

And every October, the Palace hosts the Fall Musical, a production of the local theatrical community. Past shows include “The Music Man,” “The Sound of Music,” “Little Shop of Horrors” and – coming up this Fall – “Jesus Christ, Superstar.”

As I was saying, The Palace still has much of its original charm . . . but it also some of its aging infrastructure. Earthquake-bracing, modern sprinklers, and other code- and safety work has been done, so now it’s the roof’s turn. The materials will be new, but the new roof will keep the same familiar shape. It’s all thanks to historic-preservation grants, and to donations made to the “Crown” Project by local theater-goers, through the not-for-profit Friends of the Palace Theater [www.hilopalace.com].

Hooray for them!

Mango Season

Here on the Big Island
By Kelly Moran
 
Mango Season
 
It’s mango season, the height of the season, in fact.  Trees all over the Big Island are full right now; and a Mango Festival was recently held at the Keauhou Beach Resort, in Kona.

Mangoes grow on trees that are native to South and Southeast Asia, but are now cultivated in every tropical country, even in Africa.  Left alone, mango trees can grow to 100 feet, producing fruits that are tiny and practically un-harvestable.  So, in commercial orchards and in most folks’ back yards, they’re kept pruned to a reasonable, eminently reachable height.

There are many, many varieties of mangoes that show up in local farmers’ markets, including one that’s so elongated it’s called a “cigar.”  (A poster showing 63 varieties of mangoes can be seen or purchased at: www.fruitlovers.com/MangoPosterHawaii.html

MangoBut two varieties are the most abundant here: the large “Hayden” and the small “common” mango.

Hayden mangoes have rinds that are dark yellow to red, and flesh that’s a bright orange.  They tend to grow best in drier microclimates, like Kona in West Hawaii.  These are the fruits most people like to eat fresh, in desserts such as Thai sweet rice served with mango slices, and in sweet-hot condiments like mango salsa.

“Common” mangoes prevail where there’s more rain, which we have in Hilo.  They’re smaller than the Hayden, and have a greenish rind and a yellowish flesh.  They get sweet when they’re ripe, but not as sweet as the dry-climate varieties, and a small number of them ripen with an off-flavor that’s pine-y, like turpentine.  Still, many local folks prefer those small mangoes: they pick them before they’re ripe, to make mango chutney, or to marinate them in soy sauce and spices for a savory-sweet treat.

Then, there are also the less common dwarf “Julie” mangoes, which grow in my orchard at my farm in Kamuela. The fruit of the “Julie” tree is small, averaging less than a pound in weight at maturity. Skin color is green with some crimson blush. The fruit has a somewhat unique shape that is ovate with a distinctive flattened side. The flesh is juicy and not fibrous, with a deep orange color and a very rich flavor.

Kelly's "Julie" Mango Orchard
Dwarf "Julie" Mango orchard at Kelly's farm in Kamuela on the Big Island (with Cinder, guard dog of the mangoes).

There are competitors for the title, but many people consider mangoes to be the best-tasting fruit in the world.  Some people, however, can not or should not eat them.  If you’re hyper-sensitive to poison ivy or poison oak, eating a mango may give your lips a red rash, locally called “mango mouth.”

All mangoes have a big seed inside, aligned with the fruit’s longest dimension and shaped like a flattened clam shell.  To release the flesh, make two slices with a knife, one on each side of the seed.  Set those “halves” aside while you trim away the strip of rind from around the seed and slice off (or gnaw off) as much as you can of the fruit that’s clinging to it.  Then take each half and make tic-tac-toe with the point of the knife, ideally without piercing the rind.  At that point, most people turn each half-mango inside-out, so that the big chunks separate themselves, and then peel or slice them off.

Mangoes

Lately, though, I’ve been doing something different.  I take a big serving-spoon and scoop out the flesh from each half in one big piece, which I can then cut up either as neat chunks or as thin slices.  This technique also yields a little extra juice!

 

HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND – Where It’s All Happening

HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND

By Kelly Moran

Where It’s All Happening

On September 26th, Namaste will be twelve years old.  Six bands showed up at his home to play for his eleventh birthday, last year, and several restaurants brought delicious food (“ono grinds,” as folks here like to say) for the many guests. A special birthday cake was prepared for Namaste alone to eat, and his favorite present was a new pillow.

Namaste, you see, is a white Bengal tiger. The “cake” was made of bones; and the pillow was stuffed with catnip.

Namaste

Namaste is arguably the prime attraction at the Hilo zoo – or, to give it its full name, in the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo, for it is the only zoo in America sited in a natural rainforest (kept moist by the famous Hilo rain). But Namaste is far from the only attraction. Our local zoo has a surprisingly wide variety of animals: rare South American birds and lizards; monkeys, lemurs and other primates; peacocks that stroll around the grounds, displaying their fanned-out feathers; grotesque creatures, like anteaters; and familiar creatures, like delicate Axis deer and huge hairy pigs which have been introduced to the Hawaiian Islands to be hunted. What they all have in common is that they can and do live comfortably in this climate. There are no polar bears or penguins.

Lizzy the lounging Green Iguana
Lizzy the Lounging Green Iguana - Photo by Roger Simons, Zookeeper

To walk around is to take a pleasant stroll through a unique park, even if you don’t stop to look at the animals. The paths are well paved (and wheelchair-accessible), and lined with trees, shrubs and flowers both native and exotic: the many palms and flowering trees are especially attractive. Among the rarities (kept in a cage) is one that blossoms only occasionally, and can be pollinated only by flies, which are drawn to the flower’s unique scent, said to resemble that of rotting flesh; hence its nickname: the “corpse flower” plant.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the zoo is open nearly every day of the year. But what is remarkable is that admission is always free!

Mr.& Mrs. Pickles sunbathing Tegus
Mr.& Mrs. Pickles: Sunbathing Tegus - Photo by Roger Simons, Zookeeper

The zoo is located off Highway 11, between Hilo and Kea’au; the turnoff is well marked, and the zoo is just past the Pana’ewa Equestrian Center (about which I will also write, soon).  The zoo’s website (www.hilozoo.com) includes a virtual tour. Be sure to say Happy Birthday to Namaste, when you go.

Kinkajou Peek-A-Boo
Kinkajou Peek-A-Boo - Photo by Roger Simons, Zookeeper

HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND – Save the Band!

HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND
By Kelly Moran

Save the Band!

There’s been an official island band here, continuously, since the days when Kalakaua was king and it was called the Hilo Band.  It’s been the Hawaii County Band since the turn of the last century, however, when the bandstand at Mooheau Park, on the Hilo Bayfront, was built for them.  And they still play a free monthly concert there.  And they still march in parades and play for many festivities.

The Hawaii County band playing in the bandstand at the 2009 Merrie Monarch Parade. Photo: www.hiloliving.com.
The Hawaii County band playing in the bandstand at the 2009 Valentine's Day activities. Photo: www.hiloliving.com.

Thirty-four of the musicians live in East Hawaii, eleven on the West side.  The bandmaster, Paul Arceo, first joined in 1983, when he was a teenager – and that’s not unusual.  Many of his band-mates also joined when they were young, perhaps having gained prowess in their high school bands. Others may have come to it as grown-ups.  But when you consider all of the local musicians, over the last twelve decades, who have passed through its ranks, there’s a multiplier effect at work.  The Hawaii County Band has inspired countless numbers of other folks, young and old – but especially young – to take up an instrument and maybe join a band themselves.

And yet, the Hawaii County Band could be out of the County budget next year.

The Hawaii County Band, which is part of the Parks & Recreation Department of County of Hawaii, has just been informed that they will not be funded after June 30, 2010, thereby effectively ending a 127 year Big Island of Hawaii tradition. Photo: www.truealoha.com.
The Hawaii County Band, which is part of the Parks & Recreation Department of County of Hawaii, has just been informed that they will not be funded after June 30, 2010, thereby effectively ending a 127 year Big Island of Hawaii tradition. Photo: www.truealoha.com.

We, here on Big Island, pay close to $350,000 a year to have a band of our own (it’s in the County’s Department of Parks and Recreation). But our mayor has just proposed to strike it off the books: there’s no item for it in his new budget.  Such a cut would be a hardship for the musicians, of course; but a cut would have its own – and rather unpleasant – multiplier effect.

How will we generate the next wave of musicians?  Where else, here, can you experience the magic of a live concert, or of a marching band on parade?  Those are educational experiences!  School budgets have been short-changing music (well, all of the arts, really), for years.  School bands can barely sustain themselves: or should the County Band also have to hold bake-sales and raffles, or go out and wash cars, to make it to their next gig?

There will always be more listeners than players, but a lot of people don’t even try.  (Count the ear-buds around you, next time you’re on the street or in a bus.)  Learning to play music is hard.  It takes practice, and it takes purpose: a reason to practice, something to aspire to.

There is simply no better way to encourage musicianship than to see and hear live music being played.  And even if you never attend their concerts, you can’t live here without acknowledging that it’s a good thing to have a County Band. 

The Hawaii County band prepared to march at the 2009 Merrie Monarch Royal Parade. Photo: www.hiloliving.com.
The Hawaii County band prepared to march at the 2009 Merrie Monarch Royal Parade. Photo: www.hiloliving.com.

Indeed, the local newspapers have been running letters-to-the-editor about this, and not one has taken the side of the cut in band funding.  There are several petitions going around (one is at http://www.petition.fm/petitions/savetheband/0/14/), and the band has a Facebook page with more than 1,300 “fans” (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hawaii-County-Band/336187876716?v=wall). Dozens of folks have been waving hand-made “save-the-band” signs along Kam Avenue, for the past two weekends.

Hawaii County Band tunes up for the Pahoa Christmas Parade. Photo: garysafarik.org.
Hawaii County Band tunes up for the Pahoa Christmas Parade. Photo: garysafarik.org.

So the County Council will take up the issue on March 22.  There is reason to hope that the Councilors and the Mayor can find the money, somewhere, and save the band.  I, for one, certainly hope – and frankly, I expect – that they will, in the end, do so.  It’s not about saving a piece of our local history. It’s about saving something immeasurably important for our future.

HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND – We Were Prepared – and Lucky!

HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND
By Kelly Moran

We Were Prepared – and Lucky!

On the morning of a calm sunny Saturday, the 27th of February, tsunami alert sirens all around the island went off.  An earthquake in Chile, the night before, had sent shock-waves through the Pacific, and the Big Island got ready to deal with its consequences.

Tsunami Warning Centers Took Extra Caution. Photo KITV News.
Tsunami Warning Centers Took Extra Caution. Photo KITV News.

Hilo was famously socked twice in the 20th century by the force of a tsunami – more than twice, actually, but hit  really hard  in 1946 and 1960.  The tsunami in ’60 had come from an earthquake in (you guessed it) Chile, which at 9.5 was the largest  ever  recorded. This latest one, at 8.8, was only(!) the fifth-largest.

Here in Hawaii, we pay attention to tsunami alerts.  Last September, a tsunami slammed into American Samoa.  In December of 2004, a tsunami devastated several countries on the Indian Ocean.

The Pacific has a network of buoys across its expanse and along all of its coasts, linked by radio data transmission.  (The Indian Ocean does not have such a network, so the 2004 tsunami there could not be detected and warned against until it was too late.) 

DART stations consist of a bottom pressure sensor anchored to the seafloor and a companion moored surface buoy. An acoustic link transmits data from the bottom pressure sensor to the surface buoy, and then satellite links relay the data to NOAA tsunami warning centers. The DART network serves as the cornerstone to the U.S. tsunami warning system.
DART stations consist of a bottom pressure sensor anchored to the seafloor and a companion moored surface buoy. An acoustic link transmits data from the bottom pressure sensor to the surface buoy, and then satellite links relay the data to NOAA tsunami warning centers. The DART network serves as the cornerstone to the U.S. tsunami warning system. Photo: NOAA.

The Pacific sensors picked up oceanic disturbances and local rises in sea-level almost immediately after the Chilean quake.  As soon as that news reached our Civil Defense units, on Friday night (Hawaii time), they issued their warnings of a potential tsunami.  Ocean waves generated by earthquakes travel about as fast as a jetliner, some 400-500 miles per hour; so Civil Defense calculated that they would reach Hawaii around 11 a.m. Saturday morning.

The first pages of the telephone directories in Hawaii have maps of potential tsunami inundation zones on every island.  There’s even more information online, as well as news about this latest tsunami and those of the past.  It should come as no surprise that Hilo is home to a museum about tsunamis: the Pacific Tsunami Museum (www.tsunami.org/index.html#news), which I mentioned last November, in urging you to sign up for local Civil Defense alerts via cellphone text

Wonder where the tsunami evacuation zone is near you? NOAA in partnership with the State of Hawaii has developed the "Are you in a Tsunami Evacuation Zone?" to provide residents and visitors of the State of Hawai'i easy, online access to the State's tsunami evacuation zone maps. Check it out!
Wonder where the tsunami evacuation zone is near you? NOAA in partnership with the State of Hawaii has developed the "Are you in a Tsunami Evacuation Zone?" to provide residents and visitors of the State of Hawai'i easy, online access to the State's tsunami evacuation zone maps. Check it out!

The United Nations, through UNESCO, operates the International Tsunami Information Center (http://ioc3.unesco.org/itic/), and both websites have links to additional sources of news and background information.

"Tsunami, The Great Waves": This 12-page glossy brochure provides information on what a tsunami is, how fast and how big they can be, what causes them, and describes programs undertaken to mitigate this hazard, including the development of tsunami warning centers, research programmes, and safety rules describing what to do when a tsunami attack your coastline.
"Tsunami, The Great Waves": This 12-page glossy brochure provides information on what a tsunami is, how fast and how big they can be, what causes them, and describes programs undertaken to mitigate this hazard, including the development of tsunami warning centers, research programmes, and safety rules describing what to do when a tsunami attack your coastline.

So, let me tell you: We were ready!  We were also lucky.

With so much advance notice, many boat-owners sailed out to sea, to ride it out.  Retail shopkeepers had time to move vulnerable inventory uphill.  Hilo Airport, which is inside the “tsunami indundation zone,” was closed to traffic.  Mail delivery was suspended.  Hotels shifted people upstairs. (All of Hawaii’s coastal hotels, by the way, are built on sturdy piers; their lobbies have tall ceilings and no load-bearing walls, so a tsunami can surge through without undermining the structure.)

That morning, as luck would have it, there was a minus tide.  I watched Hilo Bay through binauculars, from the Davidson’s oceanfront home on Paukaa Drive, and the only effect that I saw was some waves cresting over the breakwater in the harbor.  Frankly, I’ve seen higher swells make bigger waves in a storm; but those were blue-green, with whitecaps, and had been generated by strong winds.  The waves on February 27 had been generated under the sea: they were brown from the mud (and whatever else) that they’d swept up from the Big Island’s underwater landmass.

As a result of Saturday’s tsunami, water rushes through the entrance to the Wailoa small boat harbor in Hilo. According to Mayor Billy Kenoi, the wave action generated by the temblor pulled all the water from Hilo's Wailoa River into the ocean. Photo: Hawaii Tribune-Herald.
As a result of Saturday’s tsunami, water rushes through the entrance to the Wailoa small boat harbor in Hilo. According to Mayor Billy Kenoi, the wave action generated by the temblor pulled all the water from Hilo's Wailoa River into the ocean. Photo: Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

And that was about it for the tsunami of Feb. 27, 2010.  In the end, no damage was recorded anywhere in Hawaii.  But it could have been a catastrophe.  And this little blog would have been a lot different.

HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND – Along the Puna Coast

HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND
By Kelly Moran

Along the Puna Coast

          Last time, I told you about a particularly scenic drive north from Hilo.  Now I’d like to take you on another – and longer – scenic drive, along the coast of the Puna district.

          If you take Hwy 130 from Kea’au, and keep going straight, past Pahoa, you’ll end up at Kalapana, where the current eruption of Kilauea is extruding lava into the Pacific.  By day, all you see is white clouds of steam and smoke, but after dark, you realize that the hot lava, exploding as it hits cold seawater, is actually vividly colored with yellows, oranges and reds.

          Most people just drive there directly, especially if they are showing visitors around.  But I suggest you give yourself a couple of hours longer, and make the trip in a roundabout way, to enjoy the Puna coastline as well.

          So, instead of going straight on Hwy 130 after Pahoa, turn left onto Hwy 132, heading east toward Kapoho, and check out Lava Tree State Park.  There, an 18th-century flow wrapped itself around tree-trunks and incinerated them, leaving an intriguing, otherworldly landscape of tall, hollow cones where the trees used to be.

Immense "lava trees" like this one are all that's left of the first-growth trees that used to stand here.
Immense "lava trees" like this one are all that's left of the first-growth trees that used to stand here.

          Across from the park – though not open to the public – is the Big Island’s geothermal power station.  It taps an underground hot-spot: part of Kilauea’s enormous subterranean network of lava tubes and magma chambers.  The steam that arises, under pressure, drives a turbine, and thereby supplies about one-tenth of the island’s electricity.  The project was controversial from its inception; and even now, depending on whom you talk to, drilling into the earth is either the best way to generate “clean” energy, locally, or it’s a gross insult to the volcano goddess Pele, whose current home is Kilauea.  (And Kilauea is, essentially, all of Puna.)

          Continue on to Kapoho.  Pele made herself conspicuous there, one day in 1960, when lava burst out of a sugar cane field.  Within a few days, her slow-moving, pasty a’a had obliterated the little farming town, and left several enormous cinder-cones in its place – one of which has a crater with a permanent rain-water-fed pond inside, known as “Green Lake.”

          That eruption also threatened to overwhelm the lighthouse at Cape Kumukahi, on the easternmost tip of the island.  But at the last moment, the flow diverged and went around the lighthouse.  This may have been by pure chance, but many people here aver that Pele has always respected sailors, and that is why she spared their all-important navigational beacon.  The lighthouse  is easily identified at night by its eleven-second period – i.e., the rotating lamp appears to “flash” every eleven seconds. 

After the 1960 Kapoho eruption, the original 1927 lighthouse.
After the 1960 Kapoho eruption, the original 1927 lighthouse.

          At the lighthouse, turn right onto Hwy 137, which will put the
ocean on your left.  All along this coast there are pockets of brackish
water, heated by the volcano’s plumbing, and collectively known as “warm ponds.”  Though they are within the high-water mark, and hence officially open to the public, one of them – the so-called “Champagne Pond” – is the subject of local controversy.  It’s inside a subdivision, and there are no restrooms or port-a-potties, or other facilities; so adjacent property owners want to restrict access, whereas other Puna residents (and visitors) generally want to be able to drive in.

          Some day that pond may be designated as a park; but for now, if you want to immerse yourself in a warm pond, it’s best to go just a bit further down the road, to one that is open to the public, at Pualaa Beach Park.  You’ll see its driveway just before you come to a stop sign at the intersection of the Pohoiki Road.  Just past the parking-lot, a lava-stone stairway with a railing will lead you safely into the water.

          If the world is too much with you, there’s a place to get away
from it all on Hwy 137, between the 17- and 18-mile markers.  Kalani
Oceanside Retreat Village (www.kalani.com) is a 120-acre center for yoga,
dance and spiritual workshops.

          I’ll take you the rest of the way along fascinating Hwy 137 – the so-called “Red Road” – next time.

HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND – The (Very) Scenic Drive

HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND
By Kelly Moran

The (Very) Scenic Drive

The four-mile alternative to Hwy 19 between Papaikou and Pepeekeo has long been one of my favorite places on the Big Island. The road is narrow and winding, with many one-lane bridges, so you have to drive it slowly – the better to appreciate all the lush vegetation, the many streams and waterfalls, and the stunning vistas of knife-edged ridges and sheer rocky cliffs along the coast. Maps and road signs proclaim it to be “The Scenic Drive,” and for good reason. It’s a short version of the 50-mile road to Hana, on Maui; and like that more famous route, it offers a glimpse of the Hawaii of yesteryear.

Head north from Hilo, and turn off the highway just past Papaikou. Soon you’ll see old store-fronts, some of which are in ruins. But one has become The Toulouce Gallery (www.dianerenchler-artgallery.com),  specializing in realistic, plein-air (outdoor) paintings of nature and local scenery. Like the store-fronts, a small cemetery nearby reminds you that this road once served a bustling, workaday community.

At the mid-point of the drive is Onomea Bay. A century ago, a sugar mill overlooked the ocean from the head of the valley. But there was no dock or shore landing. Boats had to anchor in the bay to load sugar and unload building materials, hauling everything up and down with long wire cables and strong winches. Such industrial relics are long gone now; but the bay, studded with treacherous rocks, is still a rugged place to sail into.

Since the 1970s, however, the valley itself has become the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden (www.hawaiigarden.com).

The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, along the Scenic Route.
The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, along the Scenic Route.

It offers an extraordinarily large collection of native and exotic plants, flowers and shrubs, trees and ferns, all of which are meticulously labeled with their Latin names, common names and nicknames.

Flowers and plants both local and exotic are on display.
Flowers and plants both local and exotic are on display.

A paved, mile-and-a-quarter path loops along photogenic streams and waterfalls, and a picturesque stretch of the coastline. Just across the road from the entry, there’s a museum of local historical artifacts and a gift shop, both of which have free admission; but the $20 charge to walk through the garden is a bit steep. (So is the trail down into the garden, a few segments of which have stairs, and are therefore not wheelchair-accessible).

For a free view of the bay, though, two public hiking paths bracket the garden, leading down to the ocean from trailheads along the road. One starts a few hundred feet on the Hilo side of the gated entrance; the other about a hundred feet past it, on the Hamakua side. (Those trails can be muddy – dress accordingly.)

The near trail offers a fine panorama of the bay, and takes you right down to where freshwater streams meet surging ocean waves. The farther trail leads onto a promontory with a superlative view of the entire bay, as well as a once-famous sightseeing attraction. It’s just a notch in a hill, now, but it was an enormous wave-cut arch until 1958, when it collapsed in a minor earthquake.

Rough and rocky Onomea Bay.
Rough and rocky Onomea Bay.

You might be hungry or thirsty after your hike, or even after oohing and ahhing as you drove along this incredibly scenic road. So give a thought to stopping at What’s Shakin, in Pepeekeo, for one of their big sandwiches or tall fruit smoothies.

By the time you rejoin Hwy 19, a mile or so later, you’ll be able to say you saw something rare: a bit of the “old” Mamalahoa Highway that is still reminiscent of old Hawaii.