We've gotten quite accustomed to flying to kick off a trip. That sounds rather elitist, but I assure you it is anything but; usually we're flying Spirit Airlines for something on the order of the cost of a single tank of gas. Roundtrip. That wasn't something we were going to risk for a little more than five hours over the Pacific Ocean, so at 10:00am on Christmas morning, we lifted into the air on one of Alaska's newest planes.
It was just before 2:00pm local time when we landed to sunny skies and the most pleasant 75°F temperature a Pacific Northwesterner can experience in the middle of winter. We grabbed our bags and headed to Avis, sure that we'd get to the 1-bedroom apartment we'd rented in plenty of time to enjoy much of the afternoon.
Two-and-a-half hours later, we finally had a car. We weren't the only ones forced to wait - Avis had clearly overbooked their economy fleet of Kia K5s - but we somehow ended up being the ones who waited the longest. Still, we were on vacation - so after only minor complaining - we threaded our way through the tourist trap that is the waterfront of Kona towards our accommodations, a bit further south. After struggling for a few minutes to open the door into our fourth-floor walk-up apartment, there was no question that we'd picked a winner.
We've never been right on the ocean before; our unobstructed view west was pretty dramatic.
With views like this, we were ready to relax. Looking out over the ocean, snorkeling, walking on the beach, finding a good place to eat, napping, and of course catching up on junk TV were all high on our list of strenuous activities for the coming week. Aloha goals.
Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park
We passed Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park (like a National Park but free?) on our way to Costco. Nestled along the Kona coastline, @mrs.turbodb had her copy of Hawaii, The Big Island out within seconds.
That was enough to get us - or probably mostly me - excited, and we decided that after indulging in a hot dog - because what else would you eat in Hawaii? - and unloading a Costco-sized-haul of Dungeness Crab, 2lbs of 13-15ct shrimp, and a dozen cake-sized chocolate chocolate chip muffins in the fridge at home, we'd head back to check it out.
No, sea turtles cannot fly.
Hidden in those ominous-looking lava fields are the innovations that allowed the ancient Hawaiians to thrive in this hostile landscape: fish traps, lava planters used to grow taro and other staples, plus the very ahupua'a (Kaloko and Honokohau) that give the park its name.
These traditional land divisions cut a wedge from mountain to sea, ensuring each community had equal slice of the bounty. Pure genius. There are also heiau, burial caves and petroglyphs. The 1160-acre park is sacred Hawaiian ground and it's said the bones of Kamehameha were secretly buried near Kaloko Fishpond.
Yet this national historical park is virtually unknown, even by locals, who associate Kaloko with Costco, located in the Kaloko Industrial Park across the highway. Sad, but true.
A rock-wall-lined-pool where native Hawaiians once gathered brackish water for drinking.
Heading toward the coast, the path wound its way through a lava flow. In fact, every path we'd take on Hawaii was on a lava flow, but being our first, this was intriguing, and we were both glad to have worn our sneakers, the sharp, uneven surface taking every opportunity to shred our footwear.
And then we arrived at the petroglyphs.
I've never seen a boat oar before, but it certainly makes sense here!
Dancing man having a baby?
A quarter mile later, we popped out onto the coastline, following - for a short time - the Ala Kahakai Trail.
One of the more magnificent and scenic Hawaiian trails, the Ala Kahakai Trail follows the coastline paths of ancient Hawaiians. Extending over 175 miles, it begins at 'Upolu Point (northernmost point of the Big Island), and winds along the entire west coast to Ka Lae (South Point), before turning northeast to Waha'ula Heiau at Puna. Designated as a National Historic Trail in 2000 to preserve native Hawaiian culture and natural resources, the trail has been in continuous use since Polynesians first arrived on Hawaii Island more than 1500 years ago. As such, archaeological treasures, artifacts, fishponds and remains of ancient dwellings can be found all along its entire length.
With sunset less than half-an-hour away at this point, we really should have picked up our pace, but that's an impossibility for me when there's a camera in my hand and for @mrs.turbodb when there's an ocean in sight.
Look a real sea turtle. Not flying.
Black-crowned night heron looking for dinner. Does not eat sea turtles. Or at least, not the fully grown ones.
I really liked the coloring and form of this driftwood.
As the last of the sunlight streamed in under the clouds, this little patch of grass celebrated.
South Kona Fruit Stand, Capitan Cook
We started the day the way we started every day - by eating a desert for breakfast. Specifically, we had a softball-sized chocolate chocolate chip muffin/cake. And by we, I mean "we each," because those are some of the best 100%-of-your-daily-Calorie muffins ever.
The view wasn't too bad, either.
Breakfast - because we weren't going to let too many Calories ruin our gluttonous vacation - behind us, we headed to Captain Cook for a bit of snorkeling. This turned out to be amazing as a pod of 80 or so dolphins happened to be in the area, and swam by us under water. Naturally, we got no pictures of this, because - as with every single time I've ever gone to Hawaii - I'd forgotten to look for any sort of underwater/waterproof camera apparatus until about 30 hours before our departure.
Then, it was off to our first farm stand of the trip - the South Kona Fruit Stand where @mrs.turbodb busied herself with buying one-or-two-of every single type of fruit or vegetable she could lay her eyes on, while I wandered around with my camera to take a few photos of the surrounding gardens.
Palm tree trunk.
This was my first trip to the island of Hawaii, but when @mrs.turbodb mentioned that she'd never gotten to visit Ka Lae - the southern-most point in the United States of America - when she'd visited 14 years earlier, I was totally game, since those ultimately meaningless, geographic landmarks are super cool to dorky nerds.
This windswept tree in a field of grass screamed Hawaii to me.
You can't get any further south than this light thing.
Actually, we're slightly south of the light thing, but you can't go much further than this without getting wet.
Coral art. Does not fly.
Our trusty Kia. Was actually quite nice.
Sun, cliff, and clouds.
The truth is out there. (Actually, these dishes once tracked intercontinental ballistic missiles fired from California over the Pacific Ocean.)
Sunset as we headed home.
Our most common activity was relaxing around town. And by around town, I mostly mean in our apartment. And by in our apartment, I mostly mean on a couch or lounge chair, with a view of the waves crashing into the shoreline less than 50 feet away.
Someone was working hard at vacationing.
I have no idea what type of lizard this little guy is, but I don't think he's a gecko. And he might not be a he.
I'd say that we 100% struck out on finding a good food place that we'd want to go back to. But these fist tacos looked good.
While waiting for our mediocre fish tacos...
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