Once again, we had toast and coffee and hit the road. It was going to be a long day. We were headed north of Hilo and then along the Hamakua Coast to the northeast corner of the island. With 84 inches of rainfall a year, we were lucky to hit none.
Our drive along the coastline passed by lush tropical rainforests and waterfalls. Deep water-carved gulches and valleys cut through the ancient volcanic hills, which were thick with tropical foliage. The views along the northern coast are a sharp contrast to those we had seen on the southern side where gradual fields of lava made their way to the ocean.
We knew where we were headed and our first stop at Tex Drive-In. Supposedly they have great hamburgers, but we were there at breakfast time.
We drove around the drive-in and used their parking lot. There was lush foliage everywhere. It looked like the regulars sat on the lanai, while the tourists dined inside. I'm not sure what "ono Kine" means, but Tex has the words displayed on the exterior signage. Good local food is my translation guess.
Also the sign read "Fresh Hot Malasadas." Cream filled donuts.
There are many influences on Hawaiian food: World War II service members, Asian, Caribbean, Mexican, you name it, but one that keeps popping up is Portuguese. The malasadas are of Portuguese origin. They are made of egg-sized balls of yeast dough that are deep-fried in oil and coated with granulated sugar and often filled with custards and jams and jellies. They cost about a dollar and are served warm.
Forget your beignets of New Orleans and sample some malasadas of Hawaii. One was not enough, even after a full Tex breakfast. I couldn't finish the second one, but people are always eager to share and sample. I liked the custard and the raspberry versions.
Peg ordered the fried egg and Portuguese sausage (one of our favorite smoked meats of Hawaii) with hashbrowns. I ordered just the pancakes and Spam and then ordered hashbrowns once I saw what they looked like, just to sample a forkful or two. Pats of butter were provided for those with a fat tooth. Syrup was provided in little plastic packages.
My pancakes were delicious and Peg thoroughly enjoyed her perfect fried egg and Portigese sausage. The hashbrowns were nicely cooked with lots of black pepper and onions. It was as I sat eating that I also finally broke down and ordered the malasadas.
While sitting and eating I watched more people enter and order. One was wearing a tee-shirt from Relay for Life. It read "survivor" on the back. Relay for Life is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
The event began in our hometown, Tacoma. One of the founders was our friend Pat Flynn. The Relay For Life event has spread to 21 countries. Relay events are held in local communities, university campuses, military bases, and the internet.
Although the main objective is to raise money for cancer research, the event is held to spread cancer awareness, celebrate the lives of survivors, and remember those who lost their lives to cancer. I have donated in honor of my mother many times.
Our first look at the huge, steep valleys was at Waipio. If you are a Kevin Costner fan, you may recognize Waipio. The valley is the focal point of the final scene in Waterworld when dry land is found. From the view point, the valley floor is about two thousand feet below. A steep road (25% average grade) leads down into the valley. This paved public road is open only to 4 wheel drive vehicles; those who drive down in two wheel vehicles, will be charged big bucks to be towed out. I think the fools . . . I mean the more adventurous of our group have walked down into the valley before. No one walked down on this trip.
The beach at Waipio is black sand and is very popular with surfers. This entire section of the coast has extremely high winds. The valley once contained the grass palace of ancient Hawaiian kings.
The last time I was in Hawi was when I took part in the Ironman World Championship Triathalon . . . yeah, as if. Hawi is the northern most community on the Big Island and it's the turnaround point of the bicylce leg of the competition. Traditionally Hawi is the birthplace of King Kamehameha I. Hawi was once the hub of North Kohala’s now defunct sugar cane industry. Today wild sugar cane grows almost everywhere.
The road ends in the small parking lot overlooking the Pololu Valley. Like Waipio it's a long way down to the floor of the valley, and an even longer trip back up. I didn't see any way down except by a dirt path. Not even a 25% grade road.
Hawi was the site of my favorite Hawaiian memory. Truly a Kodak moment.
While admiring the view I looked up and saw a radio-controled glider riding the air waves. Have you ever ridden in the passenger seat of a vehicle and let your arm and the palm of your hand catch the wind ? Dip and rise and float as you drove along. The glider did that and more. It rolled and flipped, soared and dived, all free of gravity. I stood amazed and enthralled. A few minutes later my jaw dropped. A tropical bird flew with the plane . . . matching its effortless flight and aerobatics. Perhaps, it was defending its airspace or perhaps it was just curious. I was awestruck.
Just up the road from the small parking lot was a small fenced pasture with three mules in it. I stood next to the fence and photographed the mules and then I noticed the pilot of the R-C glider walking with his plane through the grass below. Judging from the size of the plane in comparison to the man I am able to estimate the windspan of the plane had a wing span of about six-feet.
We weren't sure what kind of bird it was. I do know that birds of prey have been known to attack paragliders, but the wings don't look like a bird of prey to me. Maybe it was just a seagull out for fun and sightseeing.
Hawi is known for its statue of Kamehameha. It looked awfully familiar, however. It turns out that it was created and built in France, but the ship transporting it sunk. Another statue was sent, which stands in Honolulu, where I saw it on my first trip to the islands. Many years later, the sunken statue was recovered and so the original stands in Hawi, where it was always meant to be.
Our destination of the trip was the Bamboo Restaurant, which Donn and Debbie love. The base mix for their Margueritas is passion fruit flavored and you get it from the Bamboo. In Hawaiian, the name is liliko'i. When I dined at the southern most restuarant in the USA earlier in the week, I had liliko'i lemonade and thought it was wonderful. When passion fruit is used on the mainland it is usually combined with orange juice and has too much added sugar. The flavor is tart and has great depth.
The Bamboo Restaurant & Gallery was once voted best restaurant on Hawaii Island and is a great stop for a fresh island style meal. I think when we left the Bamboo it was with several bottles of their Marguerita mix.
While we waited for our table, our group looked around the Bamboo gallery and gift shop. Donn spotted a live gecko lizard hiding between the window and a sales display. Through a slit in the display I could make out his eye, but to get his photograph, I had to shoot blindly, up and over the display. The resulting image reminds me of Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver with his famous scene which has him asking, "Are you looking at me?"
Geckos are harmless and they run around the outside of the house in Paradize Park and dance to the music of the coqui frogs. Each evening we'd see a tiny gecko and a smaller coqui on the eaves.
When we were seated, we all marveled at the individual flowered cloth napkins. Okay, we didn't all marvel at them: the women marveled at them, but Donn ironically draped one across his chest to show it off. Dinner was a mixed bag. Randy's pot stickers had a little too much spice in the sauce for him. This is nothing new with Randy who once ordered a firey pasta and then complained that it was too hot.
Donn and I both were a little put off by our pasta dish. Donn added more spice and ate his. I didn't like the texture and so just ate the prawns, which were good.
We left the Bamboo Restaurant and crossed the street to a cafe that had small tables and chairs on the street. We just missed the entertainment. Peg and I had listened to the group before entering the Bamboo. I was entertained for a while as I watched them picking up their equipment and instruments first and then again as they the counted out their tips and distributed them between the three musicians. I asked one for a business card, but no, they didn't have one. This is very typical of the muscians I met in Hawaii but really not too different from many mainland musicians. Everyone wants recognition, but handling their own potential pieces of PR and marketing seems to be the last thing they think of. Too bad.
I sat down at a streetside table with an ice cream cone. Debbie had grabbed my camera and snapped my photo. I rarely have my photo taken, since I'm usually on the other side of the camera, but Debbie has allowed me to photograph her and only occasionally word whips me for my photo choices. So, here is a shot of me with windblown hair and running a little tired.
Please, note, the Hawaiian shirt I'm wearing. Peg bought it for me from a second hand booth at the Keaau Village Market. It's all cotton, fits perfectly and only cost $3! Peg outdid herself with this little bit of shopping. A few days later she found another shirt for another $3. Excellent! She made friends with the woman who ran the shop who introduced herself as Aunty. Twice she gave us crocheted leis and a kiss. That's appreciative.!
Next, Sue joined us with her coffee and ice cream. I'm not sure if we consumed more coffee or ice cream on this Hawaiian adventure, but I do know we probably craved more ice cream than we craved coffee. Peg still talked about the dragon fruit sherbet she had at one cafe near the Suisan fish market in Hilo. I really enjoyed the mango and cream I had. At this little shop I enjoyed my coffee and macadamia nut ice cream. I think Sue had the same.
After our ice creams and coffee we started our journey home. We arrived about 7:30, which meant we had been gone about twelve hours. For twelve hours (and much of it in a car) we saw a lot and had a great time, but we were glad to return to the lanai and conversation.